What is life?

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Reply Fri 21 Apr, 2006 04:43 pm
I'd like to start a thread asking members to open metaphysic related discussions.

Metaphysics (Greek words μετα [meta] = after/beyond and Φυσις [phusis] = nature) is a branch of philosophy concerned with giving a general and fundamental account of the way the world is. Metaphysics is thus like the sciences in that it tries to describe the world, but it differs from these disciplines in its scope and fundamentality. Whereas the biologist is concerned with the nature of organisms and the physicist with the nature of bodies, the metaphysician is concerned with the nature of all reality. A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation into what categories of things are in the world and what relations these things bear to one another. The metaphysician also attempts to clarify the notions that figure fundamentally in our understanding of the world; these notions include existence, objecthood, property, space, time, causality, and possibility.
 
Justin
 
Reply Fri 2 Jun, 2006 02:31 pm
@andykelly,
What is our life?

Interesting subject and there was a response listed below that I found quite interesting and I'll post it here:

de Silentio wrote:
When Adam (or whom ever) decided to break the covenent he had with God, he set aside his immortality with God and let nature take over (death). So, what we inherit from Adam isn't an evil, it is the abitility to die.

Now, what is life? After that, what is death? Did you know that the least known of all the sciences is the science of man? We have everything else figured out but the most important science of all.

It's my understanding that man or life is spiritual. We are spirits living in a body or sometimes referred to as our temple. So, if man is not body and man is spirit, then spirit cannot die. From dust our body was created and to dust we will return but if our body is simply a combination of chemicals and water, then man is soul and spirit, not body.

In understanding the make up of a man's (or woman) body is indeed water and chemicals then mind is spirit and not physical.

Therefore if we are all spirits and our soul cannot die, then what is death?

I'm doing some work for the University of Science and Philosophy and have had the opportunity to look at some of the works of a not-so-well-known philosopher and scientist, Walter Russell. He has written about reincarnation and also states that man is not of body but of spirit. His books are very good, although not the easiest to read... These aren't novels by any means. If you'd like to see some of the books written, go to www.Philosophy.org and you can see them there.

With that being said and if we are spirits, and the spirit cannot be killed by our way of thinking, then what's the next step?

Could it possibly be that we (mankind) are spirits created by the mind thought energy of one creator, God? So if we are created by one mind and one energy, doesn't this mean that mankind is connected through mind thought energy? Maybe this is what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 25:40 where it says:
Quote:
"And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me."


I'm not trying to pin this in the religion catagory because Religion, I believe is made by mankind just as we make our own hell. However, life and the science of mankind is tied to a creator.

What are your thoughts? Smile
 
pilgrimshost
 
Reply Tue 3 Oct, 2006 06:51 pm
@Justin,
This is a very interesting topic. you have some good points, well constructed but i have to argue it may have some problems.

Firstly nobody can use the holy bible,old or new testiments to support these types of theories because it would only be selective! the bible does have flaws i.e:the 'begats' as i call them. the 'adam to noah' begats for example. the bible has been 'twisted' in one way or another over the last 3000 years either by the jewish priesthood since esra or around the time of the adoption of the religion by the romans and the council of nieseen( spelling mistake known). And the bible can be used to support anything anybody wants it to, just look how many denominations there are quoting from the same verse telling a different meaning!

If reincarnation is true then what about the fact that there are more people alive today than there has been in history altogether. how many people have claimed to had been the same person in a past life. regretion also is a problem, as hypnotism is well known to generate false memories, alien abductions for exsample. To go back to the bible, it does say that man is only to live once then die once. and were does alien life fit in? because thats a whole other debate.

Though i do believe in a creator God (YHWH, as its translated from hebrew), i do have many answers that elude me from the truth.Can we even be sure we even have souls and spirits? It cant be proved they dont excist, but can they be proved to excist? I have a deep interest in this subject and understand that everything has to be taken into account, even if it cant be explained away and seems to be too far fetched.

This is my very first entry to this forum. i am only trying to add to the debate in order to find some sort of conclusion. so dont feel i am atempting to ruine a theory with my own preconsieved woffle. I hope it may have given another point of veiw atleast.Smile
 
NoAngst
 
Reply Tue 3 Oct, 2006 09:12 pm
@pilgrimshost,
And in this way metaphysicians invite us to look at the universe in much the same way that poets invite us to look at daffodils and rainbows. But is that knowledge? Fact is, we know no more about aesthetics, ethics ad nauseum than we did 2500 years ago. Heard of any breakthroughs in "the meaning of life" lately? Any recent developments in "What is beauty?", "What is justice?" or "What is 'The Good'?" To what point, then, do people engage in metaphysical pursuits? Likely for contemplative value rather than practical value, which is again like poetry an unlike science. Metaphysicians from Plato and Aristotle onward are to me like the little tailor in The Emperor's New Clothes, each insisting that the finely knit raiment they describe is really there. Trouble is, there's no way to tell whether it is or it isn't.
 
pilgrimshost
 
Reply Tue 3 Oct, 2006 09:40 pm
@NoAngst,
I believe your statment is very true and I wander, would you say its pointless, a lost cause or even a way of creating a belief in somthing that isnt or maynot be there?Smile
 
NoAngst
 
Reply Tue 3 Oct, 2006 10:13 pm
@pilgrimshost,
If it provides you only objects of contemplation for which no practical application is intended, I cannot see the harm. However, if it provides for you practical prescription for the conduct of life, then I'm afraid a good deal of harm can come of it. The metaphysical foundation of the world's religions is a case in point. Whether you take your prophet to be Jesus or Mohammed hardly matters as regards truth value; but truth value does matter when you take your chosen prophet beyond the church or mosque and into world politics. Then, according to choice of metaphysics, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and everyone has God on their side. And so it has gone for thousands of years.
 
pilgrimshost
 
Reply Tue 3 Oct, 2006 10:26 pm
@NoAngst,
To be completly honest i dont think i understand what metaphisics even means. it may ring a bell if you explained it briefly but in a way im just ingaging in a topic that im familier with! when you say what your saying it is very collected and meditated, and i agree. im just not quite sure if your talking in reference to my first comment or are you just openly saying what you feel about metaphysics? http://www.philosophyforum.com/forum/images/icons/icon4.gif
 
NoAngst
 
Reply Tue 3 Oct, 2006 10:42 pm
@pilgrimshost,
pilgrimshost wrote:
im just not quite sure if your talking in reference to my first comment or are you just openly saying what you feel about metaphysics? http://www.philosophyforum.com/forum/images/icons/icon4.gif


I was talking in reference to both.
 
pilgrimshost
 
Reply Tue 3 Oct, 2006 11:08 pm
@andykelly,
personly I need a pratical application in this area, based on what is concluded! sadly its what I and many billions of people strive for,a meaning to the madness. if anything,it must be the most important thing in our lives to understand the reality of our existance, because when we come to the end, not only 'will it be the end' but what else may we face that will be determined by what we did in life. Its not worth even thinking about otherwise, if its just a pointless chat about some irrelivent nonsence-which would be all that it was in that case.

In many ways I feel comfort in even the possibility of finding these answers(thogh deep down I think i will not), either way I would know what to expect, or at least(if nothing) work on what id leave behind when im gone. For me if there is nothing in that is beyond our everyday world- then life is truely insane.

Why would people like myself go through this 'slavery' of our lives spending our existance engaged in perilous toil when we came from the dust, given the ability to contemplate the stars then just drop dead just to rot.sorry.
 
NoAngst
 
Reply Tue 3 Oct, 2006 11:43 pm
@pilgrimshost,
But it is your lament, after all. To someone who finds a good deal in this life to make it alone worthwhile, your lament will not be an apposite and felicitous counterpart to their experience. How can that be? Well, it happens all the time when one confuses how things are with how one feels about how things are. This is not to say that what someone else thinks is true and what you think is false; it is to say that you both are merely stating what is "true for you". Unfortunately, what is "true for you" is not the same thing as what is "true in fact". So what is "true in fact"? In this case, I'm afraid the answer is imponderable. Not only that, what would count in support for either case is itself imponderable. That in what you find no solace another takes delight is exactly the problem here. Put another way, the problem isn't in finding an answer to the meaning of life; it is in finding an answer to the meaning of life for you. Big difference. And my only point is that you consider that difference when you attempt to look from without for an answer.
 
perplexity
 
Reply Thu 5 Oct, 2006 12:48 pm
@NoAngst,
NoAngst wrote:
...Well, it happens all the time when one confuses how things are with how one feels about how things are. This is not to say that what someone else thinks is true and what you think is false; it is to say that you both are merely stating what is "true for you". Unfortunately, what is "true for you" is not the same thing as what is "true in fact". So what is "true in fact"? In this case, I'm afraid the answer is imponderable.

At any given time, in whatever given context, "true in fact" would usually imply a majority approval of some sort: In a court of law it might take the form of a jury verdict; in the scientific arena it might arise from peer approval, and so on.

"Truth" is otherwise a metaphysical concept, and as such it is a notoriously perilous one to fool around with.

If there are not so many breakthroughs in "the meaning of life" lately, this is presumably because the nature of the human being has hardly changed during the past 2500 years, for the "meaning of life" for most of us is a wonderfully personal issue, and it is to that to that very point that people engage in metaphysical pursuits, the point of the person.

The Emperor's New Clothes anology would thus apply only to the extent that we poke our noses into each others' business, a failing equally common to a rational personality, as it is to a poet.

--- RH
 
NoAngst
 
Reply Thu 5 Oct, 2006 01:58 pm
@perplexity,
nor is truth a "metaphyical concept".

perplexity wrote:
At any given time, in whatever given context, "true in fact" would usually imply a majority approval of some sort: In a court of law it might take the form of a jury verdict; in the scientific arena it might arise from peer approval, and so on.

"Truth" is otherwise a metaphysical concept, and as such it is a notoriously perilous one to fool around with.

If there are not so many breakthroughs in "the meaning of life" lately, this is presumably because the nature of the human being has hardly changed during the past 2500 years, for the "meaning of life" for most of us is a wonderfully personal issue, and it is to that to that very point that people engage in metaphysical pursuits, the point of the person.

Truth by concensus or majority opinion is hardly "truth in fact", else for several millennia the earth would have been flat and the sun would have revolved around it. More, the idea that truth is a personal matter as you suggest for the meaning of life is equally absurd, as it childishly overlooks objective reality for which personal belief matters not one iota. I am here reminded of the protagonist in Dostoevsky's Notes From The Underground who complained against the impossible tyranny that 2+2=4, and insisted he had a right to believe that it equal 5. And of course he has that right. But if he stands 2+2 feet away from a railroad track, and jumps the distance thinking he has yet another foot to spare, and a train happens by, that belief of his will not save him from being a mangled, bloody mess on the track.

And such is the problem with metaphysics generally when their whimsical preoccupations brush up against the real world. But as contemplative exercises they certainly serve their purpose, just not as well as the odes and sonnets with which thay share epistemic equivalence but lack the discipline of meter and rhyme.
 
pilgrimshost
 
Reply Thu 5 Oct, 2006 02:14 pm
@perplexity,
If truth is subjective to a persons perspective, and one mans discontent is anothers content,I wonder if reality then is a consept that actually exists because there must be no fixed structure to its construct. I mean if it has so many diversities that conflict with every other consept, and nothing is solid 'fact' just at most a collection of groups that form a collection of shared conformities. Then is to go against the grain actually wrong (ie society) but simply to exist in a perseived reality of its own. This then must give everything 'truth' in a sence of reality, bering in mind 'reality' must be strictly subjective. Weather to say if it is functional or not wouldn't then matter.Would for example; mental illness be therefore a problem or all types of deviant states? A belief in littery anything would thus make it efectivly real for all intesive perposes!

Though this bothers me. There must be a reality that is true in the strictest meaning of the word. Would then the 'conformers' of the subjective reality they collectivly are a part of be possibly down to ignorance to the actual 'truth'. For instance the concept of money and fashion, where people work hard to get the money nessesery to maintain their image and therefore their status within their social group. This is the world of consumerism which in a reality sence is very real-to some. But as they believe, is it nessesery? Why is it so important? But it is their reality never the less.

I wonder is it a sub reality that is not a part of the true reality, more of a substitute, like a choice. Where our true purpose and meaning is an alternate life style. Its quite easy to see a well formed structure to the animal world. possibly, we are so at a loss to the 'meaning of life' because we're running to fast for it to keep up!
 
perplexity
 
Reply Thu 5 Oct, 2006 04:52 pm
@pilgrimshost,
NoAngst wrote:
nor is truth a "metaphyical concept".

Truth by concensus or majority opinion is hardly "truth in fact", else for several millennia the earth would have been flat and the sun would have revolved around it. More, the idea that truth is a personal matter as you suggest for the meaning of life is equally absurd, as it childishly overlooks objective reality for which personal belief matters not one iota.

Who then is the arbiter of this "objective reality"?

"objective reality" is a notional concept.

At any given time, in whatever given context "objective reality" varies according to the audience, a fact which is objectively demonstrable, from the historical example and from experimental observation of human conduct.

NoAngst wrote:

I am here reminded of the protagonist in Dostoevsky's Notes From The Underground who complained against the impossible tyranny that 2+2=4, and insisted he had a right to believe that it equal 5. And of course he has that right. But if he stands 2+2 feet away from a railroad track, and jumps the distance thinking he has yet another foot to spare, and a train happens by, that belief of his will not save him from being a mangled, bloody mess on the track.


While the practice of Mathematics relies upon axioms, the truth is usually supposed to rely upon a proof.
Everything we do requires a faith.
When you put one foot in front of another to expect the Earth to support your weight, that is act of faith, and let us never forget that "truth" is always history;
wisdom is always with hindsight;
what a dull affair our lives would be, but for the constant opportunity to update our personal software.


NoAngst wrote:

And such is the problem with metaphysics generally when their whimsical preoccupations brush up against the real world. But as contemplative exercises they certainly serve their purpose, just not as well as the odes and sonnets with which thay share epistemic equivalence but lack the discipline of meter and rhyme.

Your railway track story introduced a fiction, a fallacy of inductive logic.

To prove it as a truth in scientific terms you would have to conduct a real time experiment with an agreed objective standard to estimate the "belief" of the subject.

As I wrote before, "Truth" is otherwise a metaphysical concept, and as such it is a notoriously perilous one to fool around with. Words are cheap. Anybody may or may or may not pronounce this or that belief as this or that absolute truth.


One might thus reasonably propose that the railway track story would itself be a test of belief, that with a true belief one would indeed be saved from being a mangled, bloody mess on the track.


pilgrimshost wrote:
...There must be a reality that is true in the strictest meaning of the word.

Why?

Why must there be a reality, a single reality?

I think of that as an out dated throwback to the pre-cybernetic era, stone age thinking.

In the information age it is a much more workable proposition to suppose that each individual owns an access his own particular set of reality data.


pilgrimshost wrote:

This is the world of consumerism which in a reality sence is very real-to some. But as they believe, is it nessesery? Why is it so important? But it is their reality never the less.

Upon examination "truth" in practice does indeed turn out to be very much a matter of market forces.

Smile

--- RH.
 
pilgrimshost
 
Reply Thu 5 Oct, 2006 05:20 pm
@perplexity,
So would you say that reality is strictly subjective? Is it possible we are just animals with an over developed brain that can to imagine concepts that over time form into all types of situations and circumanstances that form our history, world, understandings and lives. In other words its all in our heads?Smile
 
NoAngst
 
Reply Thu 5 Oct, 2006 06:57 pm
@perplexity,
perplexity wrote:
Who then is the arbiter of this "objective reality"?

Why does 2+2=4 need an arbiter?
perplexity wrote:

"objective reality" is a notional concept.

At any given time, in whatever given context "objective reality" varies according to the audience, a fact which is objectively demonstrable, from the historical example and from experimental observation of human conduct."?

This is obviously false. Gravity, Coriolis, the Doppler effect ad nauseum do not require audience or arbitration to obtain. Neither does 2+2=4. That a tree that falls in the forest to you does not make a noise unless attended by human audience is solipsism of the most infantile kind. No doubt in your weltanschauung, should you suddenly look away from an object, it disappears until such time as you return your attention.
perplexity wrote:

While the practice of Mathematics relies upon axioms, the truth is usually supposed to rely upon a proof.
Everything we do requires a faith.
When you put one foot in front of another to expect the Earth to support your weight, that is act of faith, and let us never forget that "truth" is always history;
wisdom is always with hindsight;
what a dull affair our lives would be, but for the constant opportunity to update our personal software.



Your railway track story introduced a fiction, a fallacy of inductive logic.

To prove it as a truth in scientific terms you would have to conduct a real time experiment with an agreed objective standard to estimate the "belief" of the subject.

As I wrote before, "Truth" is otherwise a metaphysical concept, and as such it is a notoriously perilous one to fool around with. Words are cheap. Anybody may or may or may not pronounce this or that belief as this or that absolute truth.


One might thus reasonably propose that the railway track story would itself be a test of belief, that with a true belief one would indeed be saved from being a mangled, bloody mess on the track.



Why?

Why must there be a reality, a single reality?

I think of that as an out dated throwback to the pre-cybernetic era, stone age thinking.

In the information age it is a much more workable proposition to suppose that each individual owns an access his own particular set of reality data.



Upon examination "truth" in practice does indeed turn out to be very much a matter of market forces.

I'm afraid mere interation of a view is not the same thing as counter-argument. That you choose to conveniently discount argument by mere utterance of assurance to the contrary will not suffice. This seems to be your style, I notice; rather than provide reasoned rejoinder as to why the example does not exactly illustrate that which you say does not exist, you instead pout and stamp your feet, insisting your view is correct regardless. I'm afraid this will not work with me, and evidences a distinct lack of intellectual integrity. Or don't you think the experiment offered Dostoevsky's protagonist is not objective?
 
perplexity
 
Reply Thu 5 Oct, 2006 07:16 pm
@pilgrimshost,
pilgrimshost wrote:
So would you say that reality is strictly subjective?

For the most part what we call "reality" amounts to a consensus of opinion derived from personal experience, but in philosophical terms the consensus is not so much of interest.

What is life?

Life is very much about the development of individuals as individual personalities, hence the personal truth of our perceptions of our personal narrative, hence the differences between us. It is our faults, our lack of truth that defines us. There would not be much of an interest to discuss this at all, would there, were we all acquainted with the very same reality?

And this is not just a poetic whimsy on my part; with the rediscovery of the Anthropic Principle science is once again coming around to thinking of the universe as dependent upon our consiousness, rather than vise-versa, human life as insignificantly incidental.

-- RH.
 
pilgrimshost
 
Reply Thu 5 Oct, 2006 07:24 pm
@andykelly,
Yes I understand what your saying but how is the universe dependent on our consiounsness? If we seaced to exist the universe would still be exactly the same presumibly?
 
NoAngst
 
Reply Thu 5 Oct, 2006 07:57 pm
@perplexity,
perplexity wrote:
For the most part what we call "reality" amounts to a consensus of opinion derived from personal experience, but in philosophical terms the consensus is not so much of interest.

What is life?

Life is very much about the development of individuals as individual personalities, hence the personal truth of our perceptions of our personal narrative, hence the differences between us. It is our faults, our lack of truth that defines us. There would not be much of an interest to discuss this at all, would there, were we all acquainted with the very same reality?

And this is not just a poetic whimsy on my part; with the rediscovery of the Anthropic Principle science is once again coming around to thinking of the universe as dependent upon our consiousness, rather than vise-versa, human life as insignificantly incidental.

I state why truth by concensus doesn't work, give you example, and again you simply ignore it, and instead like the Energizer Bunny just keep going and going and going on with the same insistent retort.

As regards your answer to What is life? (not the original question by the way, but, hey, if you enjoy playing the accordion, have at it), no doubt you have ponderable evidence of this, results from experiments you've conducted, etc. Care to share them? Or are we to take you on your word again? Lemme guess: You will invite us to only look within ourselves to get the proof we need.

How utterly...Emperor's New Clothesish.
 
perplexity
 
Reply Thu 5 Oct, 2006 07:59 pm
@NoAngst,
NoAngst wrote:

Why does 2+2=4 need an arbiter?

Mathematics is in effect a language, logical, an expression of a meaning and by no means an absolute one, so with no arbitration of the meaning there is nothing to settle a mathematical issue.

Did they not teach you at school never to forget to quote your units?

2+2=4 is meaningless without units, just as the validity of a logical statement is never better than a premise it relies upon.


NoAngst wrote:
That a tree that falls in the forest to you does not make a noise unless attended by human audience is solipsism of the most infantile kind. No doubt in your weltanschauung, should you suddenly look away from an object, it disappears until such time as you return your attention.

How then do you propose to prove otherwise?

How then do you propose to prove that the Universe exists apart from your awareness of it, that something would otherwise continue without the human race to witness it?

It is a belief, not a truth.

NoAngst wrote:

I'm afraid mere interation of a view is not the same thing as counter-argument. That you choose to conveniently discount argument by mere utterance of assurance to the contrary will not suffice. This seems to be your style, I notice;

Which in turn would seem to be your perception of it. To maintain your fiction of a single reality you attempt to adjust my reality to fit with your own.

NoAngst wrote:
.. rather than provide reasoned rejoinder as to why the example does not exactly illustrate that which you say does not exist, you instead pout and stamp your feet, insisting your view is correct regardless. I'm afraid this will not work with me, and evidences a distinct lack of intellectual integrity.

I was already wondering when it would get around to the ad hominem

An illustration is not a proof.
It lacks integrity to invent evidence to allegedly prove a fact.

NoAngst wrote:

Or don't you think the experiment offered Dostoevsky's protagonist is not objective?

I had rather thought that the introduction of a fiction as if to prove a reality served well enough to make my point, the very purpose presumably being to appeal to the majority opinion of the expected result thus induced.

Ergo your "illustration" only works to the extent that my argument applies; the opinion majority wins the day.

--- RH.
 
 

 
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